cover image Murder in an Italian Village: A Bria Bartolucci Mystery

Murder in an Italian Village: A Bria Bartolucci Mystery

Michael Falco. Kensington Cozies, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-4213-1

Falco’s haphazard debut cozy delivers beautiful descriptions of the Amalfi Coast pinned to a largely uninvolving murder mystery. It’s a few weeks before peak tourist season in the Italian town of Positano, and recently widowed Bria is preparing to open a bed and breakfast in her late husband’s honor. Returning home after a trip to town center, she discovers the body of a man in one of her bedrooms, his shirt covered in blood. She immediately calls her best friend, Rosalie, sister of Positano’s chief of police, to plan her next move. After police arrive on the scene, suspicion starts to float toward Bria; in order to safeguard her reputation and that of her budding business, she and Rosalie team up to investigate the killing on their own. With the reckless energy of the Hardy Boys, the duo chases down red herrings, flying into a ridiculous number of false accusations and placing targets on their own backs in the process. Despite starting off with a bang, Falco weighs down the proceedings with a repetitive structure and a handful of inaccuracies (Italy does not, as one character asserts, try anyone by “a jury of [their] peers”). Armchair travelers might get by on the passages about Italy’s sights and smells, but readers looking for a satisfying mystery will be disappointed. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (Oct.)